Data Harvesting Fraudsters Cropping Up More Often Online

You may not notice it until it has affected you, but the market for stolen intel has never been stronger. For online businesses this means a huge added risk - and merchants need to take steps to stay ahead of these challenges, and protect consumer data. 

There’s a Bounty for Consumers’ Personal Data

Thanks to COVID, the pace at which the world was moving toward ecommerce was put on warp speed, with online suddenly flush with millions of relative newbies. These folks had likely transacted online before, but not to these levels. As a result, their exposure to fraudsters exponentially increased, with many of them becoming easy targets for identity theft.

Fraudsters have had a field day. Before the pandemic, fraudsters were already prone to sharing intel with one another, as it benefits the whole for them to stay technologically ahead of their prey. The absolute glut of consumer information openly available offered exceptional paydays for them. And hacker sites became robust marketplaces where bounties for all sorts of personal data were offered, and personal consumer information was exchanged at an alarming rate.

There are plenty of solo fraudsters, who aren’t part of any organized ring, offering up stolen credentials everywhere, though their favorite playground is typically social media.

They track intel consumers share on blogs, forums, and various social media platforms. Places like Facebook offer fraudsters more information than they need to engineer an opening into a target’s online identity.

Many times, the fraud is perpetrated by someone using bits of info to tease out more by pretending to be you – the merchant.

Fraudsters Impersonating Your Brand

Fraudsters may get their hands on a merchant’s client list or they could very simply pay attention to consumer posts and hashtags about merchant purchases. 

Next, the impersonators craft extremely real appearing emails where they pretend to be the merchant offering a discount. Your customers then enter their personal information to purchase whatever item and forget about it until they realize the item was never delivered. 

Once they follow-up with the merchant and realize their card was never charged, they’re baffled. The transaction just must not have been processed – that’s the most common answer consumers come up with. But this is not what happened - their information has been stolen. Making matters worse, this information likely will be sold to the highest bidder, and not be used right away - so the consumer isn’t watching for anything out of the ordinary.

When the fraudster is impersonating your business, you run into a slew of risks and challenges - including chargebacks and negative reviews from angry customers.

Stopping fraud is a lot more complicated when they’re pros at pretending to be real. So, what’s a merchant to do?

Capturing Impersonators

This is where things become quite challenging. There are endless alerts available to merchants, of course, but none of them are sophisticated enough to account for every variable that a fraud ring could throw at you. This is especially true when we’re talking about exceptionally informed fraudsters that know all of the identifying info of your consumer, including the fact that they are a regular customer at your store. 

Is it out of the ordinary that a frequent customer suddenly places a large order with you? Sure, but it’s not alarming. It may go undetected in fact, as long as the fraudster doesn’t get too greedy about it. There’s really no way for a merchant to spot something like this when everything matches up. Sure, they may be sending the merchandise to a new address – but it could easily be a gift. Nothing really noteworthy there.

Stay On Top of Alerts & Reviews 

Manual reviews are the best way to catch these impersonation fraudsters, but that requires advanced knowledge that needs to keep up with ongoing trends. With technology improving every day, artificial intelligence (AI) reviews are getting increasingly useful. However, a multi-faceted approach using both manual and AI reviews is required to ensure every new pattern and tactic is addressed and taken care of immediately.

At Reach, we ensure the best approach to identifying fraud. Our expert team stays on top of trends and notifies merchants of any significant threat against them. 

As fraudsters adopt advanced technologies, we evolve as well, identifying emerging fraud trends that others miss. Our global view of merchants spanning categories worldwide, combined with our extensive fraud-detecting experience, allows us to rapidly connect seemingly isolated events and alert merchants.

Reach out for a conversation about your needs and a free demo detailing ways we can help you keep your customers -and your business – safe!

Reach simplifies cross-border ecommerce for forward-thinking organizations with ambitious global expansion goals.